Charlie Appleby was on track at Del Mar on Tuesday as he prepares a strong team for the two-day Longines Breeders’ Cup meeting.
Appleby has enjoyed a year to remember and is all but assured of being crowned champion trainer in Britain for the first time.
In no small part that is due to Adayar, winner of the Derby and King George, and Hurricane Lane, who won the Dante and St Leger – but Appleby also houses two strong contenders for next year’s Classics in Native Trail and Coroebus.
Neither of those four are in America, but this year’s 2000 Guineas runner-up Master Of The Seas is and he will run in the Mile, ridden by James Doyle, with William Buick partnering Space Blues, winner of the Prix de la Foret last time out.
Albahr, already a Grade One winner in Canada, runs in the Juvenile Turf on Friday, along with Modern Games, while Walton Street, winner of the Canadian International, and Yibir, who won the Jockey Club Derby at Belmont, both go in the Turf.
Appleby said: “In the Juvenile Turf Modern Games comes in off the back of a nice win in the Sommerville Stakes. He’s got a nice draw and I think he’s got the pace to travel well around here and he’s probably going to be a worthy favourite. With the rub of the green he’ll be hard to beat.
“Albahr was last seen winning at Woodbine and brings experience into the race, but he’s similar to Line Of Duty (winner in 2018) in a fashion – he’s earned his stripes to get here.
“He might not be the sharpest and best horse in the race, but he’ll be tough and will enjoy the hustle and bustle. We’ve two live players with two nice draws if they can make the most of it.”
On Saturday Appleby has four runners, two in each of the Mile and the Turf.
He said: “Master Of The Seas and Space Blues run in the Mile and I imagine Space Blues will be favourite, he’s got a nice draw in three and the perfect profile coming into the race, winning the York Stakes and we saw him winning the Foret.
“A few people have questioned stepping up to a mile and on a sounder surface, but he won in Saudi on quick ground and he won in Deauville on quick ground, so the surface doesn’t worry me. As regards the trip he broke his maiden over a mile.
“Admittedly it’s a different ball game winning a maiden at Nottingham to running round here over a mile, but he’s the class horse in the race. He travels well and is a big player off his draw.
“Master Of The Seas has had an interrupted season having finished second in the Guineas and we saw how good that Guineas was. He ran a lovely race in the Joel (Stakes) and we were really pleased with that run. We debated whether to come straight here after that, as it’s always been our plan to work back from the Breeders’ Cup Mile with him, but he showed his wellness so I gave him one more run in the QEII.
“He travelled well, but the ground was too soft him that day. The race will suit him, they’ll go a good, strong gallop on quick ground – hopefully he’s got a target to aim for, he can get the splits and he’ll run a big race.”
He went on: “In the Turf we run Walton Street and Yibir, the young and the old!
“Walton Street has been around the block a few times, but he deserves to be here having won the Canadian International in good style. You couldn’t fault him, and he had a lovely profile in Dubai last winter. He brings a wealth of experience and is very straightforward to ride – James can put him where he wants in the race and while he might not be good enough to win he’s a big each-way shot.
“The young contender is Yibir who we gelded halfway through the season. After gelding him he went and won the Bahrain Trophy, but then we saw a little bit of the old Yibir at Goodwood, where he decided to be a bit keen and over-raced. We put the hood back on and he won the Great Voltgieur and followed that up with a great win in the Belmont Derby.
“He brings American experience to the table and is the youngster in amongst them, if he brings his A game he’s got a big each-way shot.”